Ben's birth story - planned homebirth ending in emergency caesarean

By Kiara

I had no trouble planning a homebirth, even though this was my first baby. I had a huge hang-up about internal examinations, interventions, and strangers generally rummaging around my bits and pieces, so a homebirth seemed like the ideal option!

I had an easy pregnancy - in fact, I didn't even look pregnant. I kept really fit and I was really confident about my ability to give birth. There was a period of about six weeks when the baby was breech, but I managed to get him to turn by doing all manner of things, including hanging upside down out of a tree! A scan at 37 weeks revealed he had turned, and although my consultant wasn't 100% behind my plans to have a homebirth, I joked that he would most definitely not be seeing me again...........

I eventually went 10 days overdue. The night before I went into labour I was running around on the beach with my partner, Nick, and our dogs, moaning that our baby was never going to arrive. I awoke at 5am the following day with a jolt. I hadn't even felt a twinge but I somehow just knew that today was the day. I went to the loo and felt a funny sensation around my lower back and tummy. It didn't hurt, just felt weird. I went down stairs and fed the cats and dogs, made Nick and I a cup of tea, and went back to bed, not really knowing what to do next. Nick thought it was another of my false alarms and it wasn't until I went to the loo again and had a huge show that he believed me!

The odd sensations were coming every 2-3 minutes and lasting about 30 seconds. This threw us somewhat as all the books bang on about contractions every 10 minutes to start with, so at about 7.15am I called the hospital and then my midwife called back about 10 minutes later and said she was on her way.I decided to put on my TENS machine and potter about the house while Nick went out with the dogs. Megan arrived about 8am and the second midwife, Jan, popped her head in the door and said she'd call back later. I started to become more aware of my niggles and found fiddling about with the TENS a great distraction. Megan sat in the landing window with a cup of tea and we chatted away. Everything was so laid-back and when the contractions began to get a little painful I was quite happy to swing from the door frames and utter all kinds of unmentionables!

I was reluctant to be examined as I was so frightened I'd be told I was only 1cm dilated! Megan respected my wishes and carried on with her paperwork and making the odd phone call. Nick was downstairs and knew I'd call him if I wanted him. At midday I finally allowed an internal which revealed I was 7cm. I was so thrilled I had a funny turn and threw up!

By this time Jan had returned and Megan had suggested I get in the bath and chill out as I'd been stomping my way through contractions for a fair few hours now. I suddenly became all irritable and shouted at Nick to take the TENS machine off me. I felt all tangled up in the wires and wanted the bath ASAP!!! The warm water was great and, combined with the gas and air, I had a wonderful time splashing my way through my contractions. Nick later told me he thought I would flood the bathroom with all the water I was throwing about!

It was while I was in the bath that I felt the baby move quite deliberately. Nick commented on how my whole tummy had changed shape. My contractions seemed to die down, only to be replaced by a sharp pain on the right hand side of my back. I got out of the bath and decided to settle on the toilet for a while. All the time the midwives remained in the background, only checking on the baby's heart every 15 minutes or so. I began to feel a pressure in my bum and got off the loo and onto the landing where I felt like pushing. I was told to do whatever felt right, but all the while the pain in my back was getting worse. Everyone took turns in rubbing my back and reheating my little heat pack, but the only relief I got was when I pushed; even breathing hurt. After being examined again it seemed I had a cervical lip, which one of the midwives saw to. I then stumbled back to the loo where my waters broke.

As it turned out, my baby had turned his back towards my back ('occiput posterior') and had his head tilted up and to the side (when the baby's head is tilted up, it may be referred to as 'deflexed'; when it is tilted to the side, it is 'asynclitic'. Kiara's baby managed to combine three different difficult presentations.... no wonder she couldn't push him out.) - no amount of pushing seemed to be budging him. After a good hour and a half of heaving with little progress, I was conking out and an ambulance was called to transfer us to hospital. By this time I didn't care; I knew something was wrong and had complete faith in my midwives' decision. This is the point where my birth story goes from bad to worse...

The ambulance got lost trying to find our house and it was about 30 minutes before it finally arrived. During this time I am pushing for England whilst wearing a wet tea towel around my head so I look like some demented female version of Bin Laden!

I managed to walk downstairs and out to the ambulance whilst cursing loudly, my waters still dribbling as I went, pausing briefly to have a huge contraction over my neighbour's wall! Once in the ambulance I got stuck into the gas and air while a drip was inserted in my arm. Megan came with me while Nick and Jan went on in the car.

We were about a third of the way to hospital when we were in a head on collision with a motorbike overtaking a car. Thankfully everyone involved (motorcyclist included) escaped serious injury. I just lay there thinking we could carry on, but the ambulance was wrecked and they had to phone for another two crews and the police.B y this time the road was blocked both ways and I over heard one of the paramedics tell Megan there would be about a 20 minute delay while we waited for the next ambulance to negotiate the rush hour traffic. The babys heart rate had dipped a bit, everyone was looking worried and I freaked out yelling at the crew that I didn't care the ambulance only had three wheels and that I wanted to get to the hospital NOW! Megan was great in calming me down and I was soon back to pushing away.

We eventually changed ambulances. As I was being stretchered across the road, the paramedics were trying to cover me in blankets to save my dignity, while I, with tea towel still on head, screamed at them to get off as I was too hot! All the people stuck in traffic looked horrified and must have thought it was obviously some woman being transferred to the psychiatric ward....

We had the full sierens and flashing light treatment all the way to the hospital and Nick and Jan were already waiting for us when we arrived, as was the consultant who had originally been against my homebirth. I managed to joke with him and said he'd better not say I told you so. I think by this point I had had so much gas and was so tired that I didn't really register that the situation was becoming serious.

The baby was still in a difficult postition and after being given spinal block (I didn't even feel the needle) I was wheeled into theatre. Three attempts were made to get the baby out with the ventouse but then his heart rate dropped to under 60 and he was delivered by an emergency c-section. Nick,Megan and Jan stayed with me throughout and all the doctors and nurses were absolutely brilliant. Baby Ben was 7lb 15oz but had to be rushed off to the special care baby unit. He had trouble breathing, nasty bruising to his head, jaundice and a slight infection. Ben spent three days in SCBU (Special Care Baby Unit) but is now fine after his ordeal.

Although things took a turn for the worst, I do not regret trying to have Ben at home. I have been told the outcome would have been the same if I had been in hospital earlier and I would have probably suffered more intervention as a result. I felt in complete control at home and found the whole experience was generally a good one.

The severe pain in my back was caused by the position of the baby and if things had been straightforward, I think I can say I would have had a fairly easy birth. As it happened, three hours of pushing was not going to shift him!! My midwives were fantastic and Nick and I had complete faith in them. When the decision was made to go to hospital we didn't feel the need to question them. I must also add that the care and support we received from staff at the hospital was also first-class. Although I would still prefer to have any further babies at home, I know there is no reason to fear the hospital like I did.

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